All posts by Calvin Liang

Wrapping Up in Stuttgart

My summer in Germany has now come to an end and I’m back in Boston ready for my final year of my master’s! I’ve enjoyed my time in Europe and have truly learned a ton.

As a recap of my research project, we sought to analyze programming language proficiency based on eye movements. In the experiment, participants self-rated their programming skills then looked at a series of programs while the eye tracker recorded their eye movements. We asked participants to enter what they thought was the function of each program. The participants and I were separated by a divider as I monitored their progress (pictured below).

In one summer, I have identified a research question, designed an experiment around it, ran studies, and performed data analysis. I’m really proud of what I have achieved and have learned that I would be happy pursuing a career in research. Sure, there were frustrating times, but I learned to work through them.


What I enjoyed most about working in the lab has been talking to the PhD students and fellow interns about different research within HCI. Hearing about their projects gets me really excited about the possibilities that this field can accomplish, and I find new perspectives on interesting questions that I have.

The theme of my time in Stuttgart has been encountering a problem and finding a solution to it, to keep moving forward. Not to be too cheesy but I know that whatever happens, I will be able to handle it. That is something that I have shown to myself from this experience. So bring it on, PhD!

A big shout-out and thank you to Dr. Andrew Kun and Dr. Orit Schaer for making the IRES program possible, to Dr. Albrecht Schmidt and his amazing team at the University of Stuttgart for welcoming me to their lab, to all my new friends both at the lab and at the student hotel, and to Jakob Karolus and Thomas Kosch for being the best supervisors I could ask for! I will miss Stuttgart immensely!



Calvin Liang

Łódź HCI Summer School: Part 2

Here is part two reflecting on my time spent at the Łódź HCI Summer School:

After the workshops and keynotes, we were able to explore Łódź and I got to know my peers much better. From eating ramen to ordering six duck burgers to ziplining across the Manufaktura to dancing at an open-air bar, I made a lot of great memories with a lot of great people!


Another cool part about the summer school was that we were able to reunite the entire IRES group, including the students from Oldenburg and Andrew and Orit. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone else better, and I have to admit that I was pretty sad to say goodbye to them when they were leaving. However, this certainly will not be the last we see of each other!


The week flew by and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of the HCI Summer School. Meeting people in HCI from all across Europe was the highlight for me, and I am really sad that I did not get more pictures with the new friends I made. A big thank you to all the organizers for making it all happen.

We are now heading into our last few weeks in Stuttgart and we will be wrapping up our projects soon. I can not believe how fast this summer has gone by. I’ll write another post reflecting on my time here and talking more about my research!

do widzenia,


Lodz HCI Summer School: Part 1


This past week, we participated in the Łódź HCI Summer School in Łódź, Poland. Our first lesson of the summer school was how to pronounce Łódź (“Wooj”).

Over the course of the week, we listened to keynotes and participated in workshops centered around topics and methods of HCI research. This experience was great not only because I got to learn from incredible researchers, but I also was able to meet fellow students of HCI from all over Europe. It was great to interact with the international HCI community! Here’s a picture of the Father of IRES, Andrew Kun, lecturing on human-vehicle interactions:


Overall, I was most excited learning about how the iterative design process applies to HCI research. The Human Factors student in me was very happy! It is great to know that the user-centered design approach is not just available but also crucial to the entire process.

In one workshop, we worked on functional prototyping. Using EMG sensors, my group and I created a game where a player could play pinball on a computer. EMG sensors on their arms controlled each flipper of the pinball game. After building our prototypes, we tested our products in the wild with real people! It was fun grabbing people who were walking by for the sake of science and seeing how excited they were to play pinball with our prototype.



There were so many other parts of summer school than just learning! I’ll be covering that in my next post.


Hallo! Introductions, Travel, and Research

My name is Calvin Liang, and I’m a Human Factors masters student at Tufts University. I’m so excited to be doing research abroad in Germany and am super grateful to be a part of the IRES program. I’ll use this blog to discuss my experiences in Stuttgart and Europe, including my research and general adventures.

We’ve been in Stuttgart for one month now and I can’t believe that so much time has passed. This is my first time in Europe, so it took some time to adjust, but I can say that I am now comfortably settled. The U-Bahn, which intimidated me at first, isn’t so different from the T back in Boston (plus it has air conditioning!). I’ve learned some German to safely stumble through a conversation with ja’s, bitte’s, danke’s, and genau’s.

I’ve been looking forward to traveling throughout Europe since I got here. So far, I’ve been able to go to Barcelona and Paris. Both were beautiful and I enjoyed walking around (usually lost) the most. La Sagrada Familia and Jardin du Luxembourg were some of my favorites. We will spend next week in Poland, and after that, I have plans to go to Heidelberg and Berlin.

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However, it’s not all fun and games and biergarten’s here — we work hard too! I am not only surrounded by incredible PhD students doing interesting work, but I am also taking on a project of my own. Together with my supervisors, Jakob and Thomas, we are analyzing programming language proficiency using eye movements. It’s been a great experience understanding and using the eye tracker, and I have been able to consider how cool sensors are in general. I will start running experiments this week! Here’s a picture of Jakob, Thomas, and me.


That’s all for now! Tschuss!